Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance, researchers report

Date:
April 24, 2012
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Does hearing that you are a member of an elite group – of chess players, say, or scholars – enhance your performance on tasks related to your alleged area of expertise? Not necessarily, say researchers who tested how sweeping pronouncements about the skills or likely success of social groups can influence children's performance. The researchers found that broad generalizations about the likely success of a social group – of boys or girls, for example – actually undermined both boys' and girls' performance on a challenging activity.

Does hearing that you are a member of an elite group -- of chess players, say, or scholars -- enhance your performance on tasks related to your alleged area of expertise? Not necessarily, say researchers who tested how sweeping pronouncements about the skills or likely success of social groups can influence children's performance.

The researchers found that broad generalizations about the likely success of a social group -- of boys or girls, for example -- actually undermined both boys' and girls' performance on a challenging activity.

The new study appears in the journal Psychological Science.

"Some children believe that their ability to perform a task is dictated by the amount of natural talent they possess for that task," said University of Illinois psychology professor Andrei Cimpian, who led the study. "Previous studies have demonstrated that this belief can undermine their performance. It is important, therefore, to understand what leads children to adopt this belief."

The researchers hypothesized that exposure to broad generalizations about the abilities of social groups induces children to believe that success depends on "natural talent." If the hypothesis were correct, then hearing messages such as "girls are very good at this task," should impair children's performance by leading them to believe that success depends primarily on innate talent and has little to do with factors under their control, such as effort.

In line with this hypothesis, two experiments with 4- to 7-year-olds demonstrated that the children performed more poorly after they were exposed to information that associated success on a given task with membership in a certain social group, regardless of whether the children themselves belonged to that group.

"These findings suggest we should be cautious in making pronouncements about the abilities of social groups such as boys and girls," Cimpian said. "Not only is the truth of such statements questionable, but they also send the wrong message about what it takes to succeed, thereby undermining achievement -- even when they are actually meant as encouragement."

The research team also included scientists from Sun Yat-sen University, in Guangdong, China; and Carnegie Mellon University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Cimpian, Y. Mu, L. C. Erickson. Who Is Good at This Game? Linking an Activity to a Social Category Undermines Children's Achievement. Psychological Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611429803

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance, researchers report." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424100030.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2012, April 24). Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance, researchers report. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424100030.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance, researchers report." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120424100030.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins